No Bake Mini Gingernut, Lemon + Berry Cheesecakes

Yup these really are as good as they sound. The perfect dessert for entertaining guests. Not only do they look pretty special and cute (don’t you think?), they are mouth-wateringly tasty. I’m so happy with how they turned out and I hope you enjoy them as much as my friends and I did.

I made these the day before I was having some girl-friends for dinner and kept them in the fridge overnight. A great time saving dessert right there – no faffing around with an oven needed.

 

Ingredients for 3 jar-fulls:

 

Base

8 gingernut biscuits smashed up (I used these lower sugar, oat biscuits)

2-3 tsp organic butter

Filling

100g medium-fat cream cheese

130g skyr 0% icelandic yoghurt

1 tsp lemon extract

1 lemon – whole of zest grated and juice of 1/2

1 tsp granulated stevia

Topping

150g mixed frozen berries

1/2 lemon – juice

1 tbsp water

2 tsp chia seeds

1/3rd tsp stevia

 

Method:

Start by crushing the biscuits (either put in a plastic bag and whack against a hard surface… or blitz in a food processor)

Once a crumbly texture has formed, transfer into a bowl and add the butter. Rub in with your hands until it becomes more clumpy and dense. Add a tsp water or 2 to help bind further if needed. Press down into the glasses/jars for your biscuit base.

Now for the filling! Put the cream cheese and yoghurt into a bowl with the lemon zest + juice, extract and stevia and blend with an electric whisk for a few moments until it thickens. Spoon the mixture into the jars on top of the ginger biscuit base.

Pop the semi-finished jars into the fridge to set whilst you start the final layer…

In a saucepan, add the frozen berries, water, lemon juice and stevia and let thaw on a low heat for around 10 mins, gently breaking bigger pieces down with a wooden spoon. Once your beautiful berry sauce is ready, pour it into a bowl and stir in the chia seeds. The seeds will make the sauce thicken up for a more gelatinous top layer. LET THIS COOL COMPLETELY before spooning it on top of the cheesecake filling, otherwise the layers will bleed into one another instead of having defined sections.

Once the sauce has cooled and thickened, spoon onto the top of the cheesecake filling for that final touch. Store your mini cheesecakes in the fridge and take out 20 mins before serving to take the chill off slightly.

Beautiful Filo Mince Pies

These mince pies are so dreamy! They are also accidentally vegan so those of you who follow a vegan diet can hit these up also.

A lovely twist to regular short-crust pastry (which is equally as delish, don’t get me wrong) but I fancied trying something new. These are free of ‘refined sugars’ – I put it like that as it’s not a term I tend to use often, simply because sugar is sugar, our body doesn’t exactly know the difference between sugar from dates, honey or white sugar…they’re all monosaccharides and broken down similarly, although certain types can add some benefit along the way to giving us energy…(ie. fruit has numerous vitamins and minerals present and also fibre which this recipe gladly contains!)

Stevia (a plant – sweetness is extracted from the leaves) is a type of sweetener I use in some recipes; it has no reported effects on blood sugar but be mindful as it is naturally much sweeter than sugar so you need less of it in comparison.

So let’s get to it! These are simple to put together and a huge crowd pleaser as they look and taste so spectacular!

Ingredients (makes 12):

2/3rd cup currants

1/3rd cup pitted soft dates, chopped small

2 bramley apples peeled and chopped

2 small oranges (juice from both, zest from 1)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp ground mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp granulated stevia or 2 tsp sugar

2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

12 sheets of filo pastry

1 tsp coconut oil/spray or organic butter

 

Method:

Preheat oven 180 fan. In a medium saucepan, add all the mincemeat ingredients (apples first) and let simmer on a medium-low heat to ‘gloop up’ (around 15-20 mins).

Whilst the mincemeat is simmering, toast the almond flakes gently in a pan, being careful not to burn them – transfer to the simmering mincemeat once the almonds are crisp and golden.

In a 12 hole muffin tin, grease the spaces with oil spray (quickest option) or a swipe of butter then set aside.

Unroll and flatten out the 12 sheets of filo pastry on top of each other on a cutting board. Cut the sheets in half across the width and again down the centre so you have 4 quarters. Try and work fairly quickly with the pastry so it doesn’t dry out. You can always dampen a tea towel and press gently into the sheets to keep moist.

Line the bottom of each muffin tin hole with 3 sheets, 1 at a time rotating into an approx star shape, pressing into the base. Put in the oven for 5 mins to start the pastry off, allowing it to golden slightly.

After 5 mins, remove the pastry bases from the oven and spoon in the mincemeat filling, equally between each pie. Top with the 1 remaining filo sheet on each pie, scrunched slightly for a pretty effect. Pop in the oven once again with a brush of butter/oil on top. Bake for 12 minutes until gold and crisp.

Filo pastry is very delicate so be extra gentle when removing them from the muffin tin after cooked through. Enjoy with a dollop of vanilla ice cream melting deliciously into that crispy pastry with all those festive flavours, or a splodge of tangy, greek yoghurt. Heaven!

 

Cranberry + Orange Scone Bites

This really is the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas time is my absolute favourite.

Not only is it special in terms of having the family all together, something I appreciate even more now I’m getting older, but also all the lovely food and flavours that I associate with Christmas – warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And fruits like clementine, cranberry, rhubarb, currents… Mince pies eh!? Whoever invented those is a genius. My mouth is watering as I type…

Here’s a simple little recipe I’ve developed, the perfect festive snack with a cup of warm cacao. It’s a sort of scone-come-cookie. Eat whole or slice into a ‘mini scone’ and top with a little butter if you like. I’ve tried both ways and both are equally delicious! They are dairy free and low in sugars; that burst of juicy cranberries really makes it though. *you can sub for currants/saltanas if preferred.

Ingredients (makes roughly 12):

1 cup wholewheat spelt flour

1/2 cup organic oats

1 egg

1 + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp granulated stevia

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

grated zest of 1 small orange

juice of 1/2 small orange

1/3 cup hard coconut oil – then melted

1/4 cup dried cranberries

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients including the orange zest and cranberries.

Pop your hard coconut oil into a separate dish and melt. Once melted, combine with 1 egg, the juice of 1/2 an orange and the vanilla essence. Whisk up.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until a dough forms. Add a little almond milk if it’s a bit stiff – the consistency should be squidgy but not overly wet.

Break sections away from the dough and roughly shape into small patties and place on greased bake sheet pan. I think I got 13 biccys from my mixture.

Bake for 12-15 mins until slightly golden. Let cool on a wire wrack and enjoy.

 

 

Simple, Creamy Vegan Broccoli Sauce + Spaghetti

This fresh, creamy sauce is full of flavour and ridiculously easy to throw together in a blender to mix in with some pasta for a quick mid-week supper. A great way to get in some green goodness!

I’ve recently been having black bean spaghetti (pictured) and am loving it. It’s one of my go-tos for a speedy supper as it only takes around 5 minutes simmering and you’re set. Plus, with my quick sauce, a healthy meal can be dished up in literally 10 mins – yup healthy eating needn’t be complicated.

This spaghetti it’s a real winner for high plant based protein, minerals such as iron and magnesium and its high antioxidant property – particularly anthocyanins; flavonoids which give black beans their rich, purpley/black colour. Last fun fact, black beans are packed with fibre. We should all aim to get around 30g of fibre in our diets daily but unfortunately most of us only reach around 17g, if that. I use this brand for my black bean spaghetti if you’re interested…you can buy it online and in most health stores here in the UK.

Paired with my creamy vegan broccoli sauce, this is a super-duper nutrient dense dinner, filled with an abundance of micronutrients. You won’t be disappointed!

Sauce ingredients for 2:

6-8 chunky broccoli florets (about half a head)

2 small garlic cloves or 1 big fat one

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk

1 tbsp avocado oil/olive oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar

shake of sea salt and black pepper

Top with:

Flaked almonds, toasted (handful)

1/2 tsp chilli flakes or extra if you like it more spicy

A little grated parmesan *optional or nutritional yeast

Method:

Boil a kettle and fill a saucepan. Add the broccoli and simmer for 6 mins until softened. Then drain.

In a food processor/nutribullet, add the cooked broccoli and the rest of the sauce ingredients and blitz to a creamy consistency.

Add your black bean spaghetti (or any pasta) to simmering water and cook through. Black bean spaghetti takes 6 mins, wholewheat pasta around 12-15.

Once the pasta is cooked, strain, pop back in the saucepan and pour in the broccoli sauce.

Stir the sauce through the spaghetti whilst keeping the pan on a low heat to make sure it’s piping hot throughout. Plate up and add your toppings. Enjoy!

Zesty Lemon + Coconut Bliss Balls

Coming at you with a super yummy, nourishing snack you can prep and pack in your school/work bag to help keep you energised during the day.

I absolutely love citrus flavours (partly due to lemon drizzle being my all time favourite cake when I was a little girl – it’s still a hard one to beat!) and these chewy protein balls are just divine – indulgent but nutritious, containing the sugars from fruit (higher fibre), with a punchy flavour.

I’ve used hemp flour which is an excellent plant based protein source, rich in omega 3 + 6 fatty acids and again, high in fibre. You could use vanilla/plain protein powder as a sub if you’ve not got hemp flour.

These are very simple to put together with minimal ingredients and keep well in the fridge for around 1 week.

Ingredients (makes 10 balls):

1/4 cup pecan nuts

1/3rd cup pitted dates

1/2 cup oats

2 tsp chia seeds

1 lemon

1/2 tsp natural lemon extract

1 tbsp hemp flour

1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

desiccated coconut (enough to coat the outside)

Method:
  • Pop the dates into a small dish and cover with hot water. Let soften for 5-10 mins whilst you get going with the next step.
  • In a food processor, blitz the pecans into a ‘finely chopped’ consistency then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • In the mixing bowl, add the oats, chia seeds and hemp flour and stir together.
  • The dates should be soft by now, so drain the water from them and blitz in the food processor to a paste – it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, I like a few chewy bits for added texture!
  • Add the date paste to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl along with the melted coconut oil, the juice of 1 lemon, lemon extract and finally grate the zest of 1/2 the lemon in, too. Mix until a dough forms (you may need to get your hands in there to help it all bind together!)
  • Once you have the dough formed, break away sections and shape into 10 balls. Roll the balls in a little desiccated coconut and let them set in the fridge for around 1 hour.